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leaked 'Panama Papers’ reveal vast array of offshore companies and trusts

5 April 2016

Approximately 11 million documents have been leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in commercial and trusts law, and has been consistently linked with the creation and management of secretive offshore bank accounts and trusts. 107 members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) are now analysing these documents.

It is important to note that offshore accounts and trusts are frequently used for legitimate purposes. Even so, the scale of the revelations is remarkable. People as diverse as footballer Lionel Messi, Juan Pedro Damiani of the recently-created FIFA ethics committee, and Vladimir Putin all held interests in or were closely affiliated to sizeable offshore trusts or accounts.

Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has been alleged to have failed to declare his interest in three major Icelandic banks. He was heavily involved in campaigning against bailing out foreign creditors following the collapse of these banks in 2008, and there are now calls for his resignation.

The ICIJ has created a thorough list of the 'power players' revealed to have held interests in companies and trusts managed via Mossack Fonseca. Their analysis of the data does show, however, that the number of offshore companies has been declining since 2010. The coming weeks and months will no doubt reveal more about the scope and implications of this leak, but this development serves as a timely reminder that the recovery of assets, whether in connection with fraud, insolvency, litigation more generally, or a mixture, frequently and increasingly involves international challenges of opacity, tracing, and enforcement.

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Derek Bambury

Derek Bambury

Partner

Derek specialises in all aspects of professional and institutional default, management liability, insurance coverage and contentious insolvency

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